For those who find themselves wearing the "job seeker" hat out of necessity rather than by choice, it can be ridiculously difficult to see any sort of bright side, moment of levity, or touches of humor in daily life. In times of job search distress, so many of us just lock down into a full-on "all-business-I'm-not-allowed-to-have-fun-ever-not-ever-this-is-serious" mode that, frankly, works against us in our efforts to land a cool new gig...
...and stay sane in the process.
This is precisely why I asked Jason Kotecki, half of the husband and wife team behind the amazing KimandJason.com to share a few thoughts with y'all. Jason and Kim travel the country with the mission of helping us overly-serious adults (suffering from, as Jason and Kim have coined it: Adultitis) regain our childish ways. And reap serious benefits from doing so.
Are you looking for a job? Do you have a hard time sleeping because you can’t stop thinking about living in a van down by the river? Do you feel guilty when you go to the bathroom because it’s taking you away from the almighty job search?
The goal of this post is to give you permission to forget about the whole job search madness for a few minutes.
I know, I know, somehow it feels more productive to coerce the universe into giving you a job by worrying, stressing out and doing a lot of frantic busywork.
And how’s that working for ya?
Maybe it’s time for a different tack. When you take a few minutes to breathe, the first thing you’ll notice is that the world didn’t come to a screeching halt and you didn’t instantly die of unemployment. Contrary to popular belief (propagated by the stupid overused question at every single social interaction: “What do you do?”), you are NOT your job.
You are a unique blend of talent, passion, and personality. And amidst the seriousness of the job search, there is a child inside dying for a little silliness. I believe the best thing you can do for your future self is to...
Disengage from the job of finding a job and have some fun -- even if just for little bit. Take a break in the action and let your inner child run the show. When you’re having fun, you’re more relaxed. And when you’re relaxed, you’re not pressing so hard. You’re more likely to see opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. And who has a better chance of acing a job interview, someone who is relaxed and rejuvenated from enjoying life, or a stressed-out mess who oozes desperation from her pores?
Here are five things to try this week:
1.) Indulge Thyself. Do something you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.
Although you’ve yet to see the fruits of your labor, you’ve been working hard. It’s time for a mini reward. Take some time to do something fun, something you might not have the chance to do when your new job is in full swing. Read a novel. Go see a matinee at the movie theater. Put together a few scrapbook pages. Go for a swing at the park in the middle of the day.
2.) Instaparty. Find a reason to celebrate and do something to celebrate it.
These days, the news media is giddy to report the latest unemployment numbers and woeful economic news. It’s easy to get bogged down by negativity, especially when you’re one of the numbers they’re talking about. But when we focus on the negative, we miss the positive, and every day brings with it a new reason to celebrate. Don’t wait for the calendar to give you permission to throw a party, have a picnic, bake a cake, or dress up in costume. If need be, make up your own permission to celebrate: "I finally found that necklace I’ve been looking all over for! I made it to the store and back with all green lights! I saw a rainbow today!" Everyday is a holiday. It’s just that most days, what to celebrate is up to you.
3.) Future Forecast. Spend 10 minutes visioning yourself 10 years from now as having accomplished one of your biggest dreams. Be as detailed as possible; imagine in all five senses.Go crazy with this one. Don’t be held back by what is or isn’t “possible.” Cut pictures representing your dream out of magazines or draw your own. Letting the child inside loose to dream really big is a great way to teleport yourself out of your current circumstance into the future you’ve always dreamed of. By imagining vividly in all five senses, that future becomes more real, and you become more excited. By starting with the end in mind, you can trace back your steps and reveal the clues to your best next actions.
4.) Rebel With A Cause. Do one thing today to support a cause you really care about.
Anybody who does charity work will tell you the same thing: The more you give, the more you get. Think about something you’re really good at and LOVE to do (even if you’ve never done it as a “real” job), and give it away. Love writing code? I’m sure there are a few charities around town that could use a new web site or clever iPhone app. Are you crafty? Make some uplifting greeting cards or design some jewelry for people in the nursing home or homeless shelter. Gifted in the art of marketing? Maybe you could donate your services to a non-profit that could use help getting the word out. No, none of these idea will earn you a penny -- directly. But you never know who you will meet or what opportunities will arise by putting the best of yourself out there while helping people in need.
5.) G’Day Mate. Talk in a phony accent to a complete stranger.
Yep, that’s right. It could be in an elevator, at a restaurant, or in line at the grocery store. If this one terrifies you, good. Even more reason to do it. It’s hard because we care so much about what other people think of us and we hate looking foolish. But if you do this challenge, you’ll gain a great deal of confidence breaking free of your comfort zone. And there’s a good chance your next interview will be a breeze. After all, it’s hard to be too intimidated by anyone when you’ve already ordered an extra value meal in your worst Australian accent.
In the end, more grinding, worrying, and stressing is not going to help you one bit. Take a break, let go, and have a bit of fun. Because the minute you stop pressing so hard is often the moment something amazing falls right into your lap. Your inner child is ready to lead you on your next great adventure!
Jason Kotecki is a cartoonist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. The tips above come from their book The Escape Plan: A 40-Day Plan to Annihilate the Adultitis in Your Life. Stop by KimandJason.com for more tips for escaping adulthood.